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The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was the second grade, but not much has changed by the seventh. She says: “My Bryce. Still walking around with my...
The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was the second grade, but not much has changed by the seventh. She says: “My Bryce. Still walking around with my...
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  • The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was the second grade, but not much has changed by the seventh. She says: “My Bryce. Still walking around with my first kiss.” He says: “It’s been six years of strategic avoidance and social discomfort.” But in the eighth grade everything gets turned upside down. And just as he’s thinking there’s more to her than meets the eye, she’ s thinking that he’s not quite all he seemed.

    This is a classic romantic comedy of errors told in alternating chapters by two fresh, funny voices. Wendelin Van Draanen is at her best here with a knockout cast of quirky characters and a hilarious series of misunderstandings and missed opportunities. But underlying the humor are two teens in transition. They are each learning to look beyond the surface of people, both figuring out who they are, who they want to be, and who they want to be with.

Excerpts-

  • From the book Diving Under

    All I've ever wanted is for Juli Baker to leave me alone For her to back off-you know, just give me some space.

    It all started the summer before second grade when our moving van pulled into her neighborhood. And since we're now about done with the eighth grade, that, my friend, makes more than half a decade of strategic avoidance and social discomfort.

    She didn't just barge into my life. She barged and shoved and wedged her way into my life. Did we invite her to get into our moving van and start climbing all over boxes? No! But that's exactly what she did, taking over and showing off like only Juli Baker can.

    My dad tried to stop her. "Hey!" he says as she's catapulting herself on board. "What are you doing? You're getting mud everywhere!" So true, too. Her shoes were, like, caked with the stuff.

    She didn't hop out, though. Instead, she planted her rear end on the floor and started pushing a big box with her feet. "Don't you want some help?" She glanced my Way. "It sure looks like you need it."

    I didn't like the implication. And even though my dad had been tossing me the same sort of look all week, I could tell-he didn't like this girl either. "Hey! Don't do
    that," he warned her. "There are some really valuable things in that box."

    "Oh. Well, how about this one?" She scoots over to a box labeled LENox and looks my way again. "We should push it together!"

    "No, no, no!" my dad says, then pulls her up by the arm. "Why don't you run along home? Your mother's probably wondering where you are."

    This was the beginning of my soon-to-become-acute awareness that the girl cannot take a hint. Of any kind. Does she zip on home like a kid should when they've been invited to leave No. She says, "Oh, my mom knows where I am. She said it was fine." Then she points across the street and says, "We just live right over there."

    My father looks to where she's pointing and mutters "Oh boy." Then he looks at me and winks as he says, "Bryce, isn't it time for you to go inside and help your mother?"

    I knew right off that this was a ditch play. And I didn't think about it until later, but ditch wasn't a play I'd run with my dad before. Face it, pulling a ditch is not something discussed with dads. It's like, against parental law to tell your kid it's okay to ditch someone, no matter how annoying or muddy they might be.

    But there he was, putting the play in motion, and man, he didn't have to wink twice. I smiled and said, "Sure thing!" then jumped off the liftgate and headed for my new front door.

    I heard her coming after me but I couldn't believe it. Maybe it just sounded like she was chasing me; maybe she was really going the other way. But before I got up the nerve to look, she blasted right past me, grabbing my arm and yanking me along.

    This was too much. I planted myself and was about to tell her to get lost when the weirdest thing happened. I was making this big windmill motion to break away from her, but somehow on the downswing my hand wound up tangling into hers. I couldn't believe it. There I was, holding the mud monkey's hand!

    I tried to shake her off, but she just clamped on tight and yanked me along, saying, "C'mon!"

    My mom came out of the house and immediately got the world's sappiest look on her face. "Well, hello," she says to Juli.

    Hi!"

    I'm still trying to pull free, but the girl's got me in a death grip. My mom's grinning, looking at our hands and my fiery red face. "And...

About the Author-

  • Books have always been a part of Wendelin Van Draanen’s life. Her mother taught her to read at an early age, and she has fond memories of story time with her father, when she and her brothers would cuddle up around him and listen to him read stories.

    Growing up, Van Draanen was a tomboy who loved to be outside chasing down adventure. She did not decide that she wanted to be an author until she was an adult. When she tried her hand at writing a screenplay about a family tragedy, she found the process quite cathartic and from that experience, turned to writing novels for adults. She soon stumbled upon the joys of writing for children.

    Feedback from her readers is Van Draanen’s greatest reward for writing. “One girl came up to me and told me I changed her life. It doesn’t get any better than that,” she said. Van Draanen hopes to leave her readers with a sense that they have the ability to steer their own destiny—that individuality is a strength, and that where there’s a will, there’s most certainly a way.

    Wendelin Van Draanen is the winner of the 1999 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Children’s Mystery Book for Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief and lives with her husband and two sons in California.

Reviews-

  • DOGO Books nelsonc - This book is a romance story about Bryce and Juli, who were neighbors. I like the character Juli, as she seems really nice and thoughtful. In the beginning she liked Bryce but he didn’t feel the same. After knowing his real nature, she changed her mind. Whether they got together in the end, you will have to read to find out. Personally I like it because it teaches us not to judge people from appearances. Also, if you miss the chance, you may not get another one. If you like to read teenage romantic story, you should definitely check this book out.
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 26, 2003

    "Two distinct, thoroughly likable voices emerge in this enticing story, relayed alternately by a pair of eighth-graders," said PW
    in a starred review. "This novel is a great deal larger than the sum of its parts." Ages 10-14.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from November 1, 2001
    Gr 6-9-Van Draanen has another winner in this eighth-grade "he-said, she-said" romance told in alternating chapters by two teens who describe how their feelings change about themselves and each other. The first time Juli Baker saw Bryce Loski, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was in second grade. Not much changes until eighth grade, when Juli's enthusiastic infatuation wanes just as Bryce's begins to kick in. Like the author's intelligent, gutsy, quirky heroine Sammy Keyes, Juli is fresh, distinctive, and different. After raising chickens for a science-fair experiment, she can't bear to part with "her girls," and begins an egg business. When she learns that Bryce, fearful because her yard is so unclean, has been throwing out the free eggs she has been giving his family for two years, she is devastated and begins to see him in a new light. At the same time, Bryce learns that Juli's family's devoted care of her mentally challenged uncle is what makes them seem poor. Right from the upside-down chick on the book's cover, there's lots of laugh-out-loud egg puns and humor in this novel. There's also, however, a substantial amount of serious social commentary woven in, as well as an exploration of the importance of perspective in relationships. Well-rounded secondary characters keep subplots rolling in this funny, fast-paced, egg-cellent winner.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

    Copyright 2001 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    December 15, 2001
    Gr. 5-8. The author of the popular Sammy Keyes mysteries proves herself just as good at writing a charming romance. From the moment seven-year-old Bryce moves into the neighborhood, Julianna is enthralled: "It's his eyes . . . they're dazzling." Bryce, on the other hand, is horrified. In typical second-grade boy fashion, he believes that "All I've ever wanted is for Juli Baker to leave me alone." Six years later, however, the two have flipped: now Bryce is enthralled with Juli's uniqueness, and Juli is repulsed by Bryce's selfish immaturity. Told in alternate chapters from each teen's perspective, this is a wry character study, a romance with substance and subtlety. Juli gradually learns the painful lesson that she must look beyond gorgeous eyes and popularity. Bryce slowly realizes his grandfather's wisdom: "Every once in a while you'll find someone iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare." Both teens realize that standing up for what--and whom--they believe can be a difficult challenge, one faced best with true friends and close family.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2001, American Library Association.)

  • Publishers Weekly, Starred review "With a charismatic leading lady kids will flip over, a compelling dynamic betweenthe two narrators and a resonant ending, this novel is a great deal larger than the sum of its parts."

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    Random House Children's Books
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